Yay! You’ve decided to try something new and take your first yoga class but the butterflies in your stomach want you to pretend you never signed up for it. Don’t worry, we’ve all experienced being nervous at our first class before and in my case, I still get nervous when I go for a class at a new studio or with a new teacher. Luckily, the nerves usually go away as soon as I step onto my mat. So to try and set your mind at ease, I thought I’d put together a few things I think might be good to know before arriving at your first class.
- General etiquette:
For the duration of the class, put your phone on silent or ideally, switch it off. This way you can focus all your attention on your practice.
- Avoid eating a big meal before class. This might make you feel a bit uncomfortable during the class, especially when we’re doing twists.
- Pain is generally not good in any activity, so if you experience pain at any time, stop what you’re doing. Try to move into each pose mindfully so that when you know you’ve reached your limit.
- The teacher might do some physical adjustments to help you get into the pose a bit better. Please let them know if you don’t want to be adjusted.
Wear something that you’re comfortable in and that you can easily stretch in. The last thing you want is to be struggling with constantly adjusting your clothes while you’re trying to focus on keeping your balance. Also take a shawl or warm top to put on just before we rest in Savasana, especially in winter or for early morning classes.
What to bring:
Bring a yoga or exercise mat, a small towel for when things get sweaty and try to leave any jewellery that might get in the way at home.
Arrive a little early and introduce yourself to the teacher. Let her or him know that it’s your first class and also inform them of any injuries you might have. They’ll be able to recommend ways in which to adjust your practice so you can prevent causing more injury to the area. It’s also a great way to meet your teacher and realise that they’re also just human and are really there to help you have a good practice.
Leave the ego at the door:
I know, this one is hard, even sometimes for yoga teachers. It’s easy to get carried away in class and try to be the best in every pose, but it’s important to practice in such a way that you challenge yourself but at the same time respect your body’s limitations on that day. If you find that you’ve lost control over your breath or really need to take a short break, Child’s Pose is always an option. Sink back and take a few deep breaths and join in again when you are ready. Remember that what you were able to do yesterday, you might not be able to do today and that’s ok. You’re still getting benefit out of the practice and tomorrow is another day.
Enjoy being a beginner:
Enjoy the experience of doing something new and learning about yoga.
Don’t skip Savasana:
I know it’s really tempting to sneak out at the end when everyone’s lying down and resting, but please resist the urge and stay for Savasana. It’s often referred to as the hardest pose in yoga, probably because so few of us can lie still and not wonder what we’re making for dinner. We have so little opportunity in our day to just relax, to soften those muscles that just worked really hard in our yoga practice, to really notice how our bodies are feeling and to work on calming our minds. This is your time to reconnect with your breath, slow your heart rate and to try and relax before heading out into the world again.
Most importantly of course is to remember to have fun. I always have a laugh at myself when I lose my balance in a pose and fall over. Then I try again.